Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists

The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists (ECAS) was founded by Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd in 1946. Its aims were to warn the public of the dangers associated with the development of nuclear weapons, promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and ultimately work towards world peace, which was seen as the only way that nuclear weapons would not be used again.

The Committee was established in the wake of the "Szilárd petition" (1945) to United States president Harry S. Truman opposing the use of the atomic bomb on moral grounds, which was signed by 68 scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project. A majority of scientists working on the Manhattan Project did not know entirely what they were creating at the time.

The Committee only ever consisted of the eight members of the Board of Trustees, who were:

  • Albert Einstein Chairman
  • Harold C. Urey Vice-Chairman
  • Hans Bethe
  • T.R. Hogness
  • Philip M. Morse
  • Linus Pauling
  • Leó Szilárd
  • Victor Weisskopf

Half the members had worked directly on the Manhattan Project and all had been indirectly involved or consulted on the production of the first atomic bomb.

Several members of the committee gave lecture tours to promote the committee's message of peace. They produced supporting promotional materials, including one of the first films to illustrate what a full nuclear war might be like. ECAS was also very vocal in its opposition of the development of the first hydrogen bomb.

ECAS was active for four years, until 1950 when it was gradually disbanded, although most of the members continued to campaign against nuclear war, and participated in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

Famous quotes containing the words emergency committee, scientists, atomic, committee and/or emergency:

    President Lowell of Harvard appealed to students ‘to prepare themselves for such services as the Governor may call upon them to render.’ Dean Greenough organized an ‘emergency committee,’ and Coach Fisher was reported by the press as having declared, ‘To hell with football if men are needed.’
    —For the State of Massachusetts, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)

    Suppose that humans happen to be so constructed that they desire the opportunity for freely undertaken productive work. Suppose that they want to be free from the meddling of technocrats and commissars, bankers and tycoons, mad bombers who engage in psychological tests of will with peasants defending their homes, behavioral scientists who can’t tell a pigeon from a poet, or anyone else who tries to wish freedom and dignity out of existence or beat them into oblivion.
    Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

    One has to look out for engineers—they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb.
    Marcel Pagnol (1895–1974)

    What are men celebrating? They are all on a committee of arrangements, and hourly expect a speech from somebody. God is only the president of the day, and Webster is his orator.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view “realistically”; that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome. In all-out war, expenditure is all-out, unprudent—war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive.
    Susan Sontag (b. 1933)